Skip to main content

Gingerbread Jam



This morning I was asked by my daughter's preschool teacher to make 15 giant gingerbread cookies for the kids to decorate next week.

I said no.

Some beautiful lady close by immediately volunteered to do it, and good for her, for feeling up to the challenge, and for stepping forth.

I know the truth. She was a gift.

However, now I am sitting here feeling what resembles guilt.

I'm sitting here wondering why the no was so automatic.

I knew instantly that making cookies that big would stress me out. I knew I'd never made gingerbread cookies before, and it would be experimental.

Images of making small sugar cookies with the girls flashed in my mind. Stressful. Not something I want to take on when I might be able to cook only two or three cookies on a pan at a time, and keep them unbroken as I handled them with care, which usually brings out the klutz in me.

I remember watching my mom bake a gingerbread house from scratch. My memory says it took all day. I remember pieces cracking when handling them out of the oven. Traumatic. Don't get me wrong, my mom was in the zone, but I felt like I was a stranger in a strange land where I didn't belong, and very separate from the experience; watching in awe, the kitchen churning for hours as she cut out the pieces from a gingerbread house pattern, and assembled it.

It looked HARD. I'd take 2x4's and nails any day over building with gingerbread. The kitchen was a major construction zone with big machines. Okay, so, maybe I exaggerate a little, but it is true that I have never had the use for a high horse power cake mixer.

What I don't remember is ever wishing that it could be me, there, constructing out of cookie. No, anyone else could have it.

So, the automatic no today, may have come from my fear--my conditioning, or my awareness that this isn't a gift I can easily give. I didn't need to take on the stress of having to possibly remake cookies over and over to get 15 decoratable ones without lost limbs, or worse, decapitation. I have a lot going on in my life--(or in my mind), and pulling off this stunt is one thing that I know I can't do right now.

So, now how to deal with the feelings of inadequacy, of judgement I might be facing from others, or mostly from myself.

If I were asking someone to make gingerbread cookies, and they said no, I wouldn't think twice about it. Great, I would think, they know their limitations, good for them. I would say, "No problem. I get it. Don't worry, because we'll use your gifts sometime, I'm sure of it!"

So, then why is part of me giving myself lashings for this--even for the fact that I've never made them before. How could that be?! I should be a pro! You haven't lived until you've mastered the art of gingerbread cookies. (Could this be true--what if it is?!).

You could have done it. You are a coward. And now they are going to know that you are not a domestic goddess. (oh, no!) They are going to look at you funny, and when they talk about who is going to bring the Valentine's cookies, which you could pull off, they won't even consider you. You have failed. You've fallen in the outs. Not to mention that you might have had fun making them with your kids. You would have stumbled on the perfect recipe. They would have tasted wonderful. You would have been dancing around the kitchen in a vintage apron, your kids singing Christmas carols, and you joking about the gingerbread man taking off running out of the oven. You had the opportunity to experience domestic bliss, and you blew it. You missed out, and you ruined your reputation, and you didn't support your child's school. You are a loser. You should have said yes.

There is the image of this giant gingerbread cookie waving his fists at me, popping buttons off himself in all his rage, abruptly untying his bow tie that is suddenly choking him, frosting melting and dripping down his swollen forehead.

I give him a gingerbread electric guitar.

BOWOWOWOOUUUM! (Electric guitar sound)

SHWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE (moving up the scale)

SCREEWOOOOSCREEWOOOOSCREEEWOOOOSCREEEEECHH (highest notes on the guitar, trilling).

BIBILIE BIBILIE BIBILIE BIBILIE BIBILIE BIBILIE BIBIBABA BAAAABEEEEEBOOOOOO (intricate figuration down the fingerboard).

Just what he needed. I walk off leaving him jamming out, and unjamming the essential. Might even keep some of his buttons now.

Knew what he needed...is it possible that I knew what I needed? Could there be cause for celebration?

The truth: When she asked me, it was fear that surfaced, but as I write this, there is something inside of me that wants to allow for the possibility that a certain truth came forth in the moment, that I said no, because of all this work that I've been doing. The simple truth being that I can no longer force myself to do something that doesn't feel good.

And then there was the instant gift right after I said no! This beautiful woman, who said she would do it. Can I see the gift in asserting my truth in that moment, and allowing the universe to have it covered?

Can I embrace a gentler time in my life, of NOT doing what I am supposed to do when it hurts? How many years have I done what I was supposed to do, and felt myself caving in, because I couldn't tell the truth about what I needed.

Just gingerbread cookies, you say! And I say, there is always one more batch of something. There is always putting yourself last, for one more thing--just one more time--until you sort of disappear, until your dreams lie fallow, until you lose yourself in whatever is your escape of choice (in my case, not gingerbread cookies). And what is left besides your commitment to helping to perpetuate the emptiness of all the lies?--all the disconnect, because somewhere along the way, we learned we could lie, and we forgot about the power of truth-- that it could set us free, just became a pretty cliche.

Goes back to getting in trouble with our folks. Lying was the only option to avoid all that anger and disapproval. (pause--thinking of how I perpetuate this fear in my kids ALL the time to gain control--all in all teaching them to lie to save face and avoid punishment).

Now part of me knows that these women understand me, and if they don't, part of me knows it isn't my issue.

My good friend was there, and told the teacher how she appreciated my honesty. It meant everything to me to have her support. She even said she would send me an email to see how I was doing, to see if I had released the guilt, or let it grow. Another gift--someone who was there resonated with me telling the truth--another gift. Am I going to keep this gift, or let it run out of the sieve of my mind, that often can only hold the dense, the dark, and the chastising!

Nope, I'm keeping this gift.

I want to say that I hope that I am forging a new path for all of the women involved. I want to live in a world where giving comes from my heart, and not from my head, that is afraid of what people will think if I say no.

So, in saying no today, I embrace what I can do--and I know that filling up a plate with things I have to suffer through, even if it is just in my mind, is something that I can't do anymore.

I'm ready to share the gifts that I can bring--to cart them down from the attic, dust them off, and bring them back to life.

The good news is that I can bring 4 cans of frosting, or candies to decorate the super size guys. I can do that!!

The really good news is that I might have even opened up a space to make mammoth gingerbread cookies one day in peace and harmony--knowing that if I am making them, it is because I can, and I want to--oh, how much better truth tastes.

I have faith that what I have to give today is enough, even if sometimes I must say no. I love that when I say yes, I will mean it.

So, this season I come bearing my own gifts. I tell you what I can and can't do, and let you, in turn, tell me. And together we sing my favorite Christmas song, the Peace Carol.

Comments

  1. Here, Here!!

    You have nailed it, first I am laughing my ass off because what you write rings so true in the telling.

    Then the dreaded guilt. I applaud your new found wisdom... your honest, authentic answer. NO.

    In

    The new world... the longer we walk in it, the less uncomfortable it will seem, and soon, A NEW DAWN... where saying our truth brings only freedom and joy; because in the saying of either yes or no, it will be from the place of honesty and from the heart.( and guilt will no longer even be a part of our language)

    Bravo... I say BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Loved the vision of the gingerbread man!

    You can write!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Damn, girl! Once again, you let it rip! oh, the wisdom here and the freedom!

    I think every woman/mother should be required to read this. Your words would ring true with all of them and they would stop and realize that they really do have a choice, that they really can speak their truth.

    Your writing is amazing. Loved the image of the rocking out gingerbread man.

    wow! You rock!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just read it again. I really love this post!

    A writer you are, no doubt.

    Brilliant!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for that - it's so easy to say yes, when you really mean no, to do things because you feel you have to, rather than because you want to. Equally it is so easy to NOT do things that we really want to do because of fear/guilt as well. A lesson to us all to let go of the guilt once in a while, and be honest about what we can do!

    Thank you, and miss you.
    Libby
    x

    ReplyDelete
  5. The “no” is the most difficult part to reconcile between ourselves and the others. Imagine, if the puzzle of the social life is mostly composed by the mutual convenient pieces of “yes”, which all have the quick ability to compose the needed whole picture; there are also some vacant places, in the same puzzle, for our “no”. Thankfully these “no”-s, the picture brings us the precious reflects of the real light.
    However, Brooke, you could always bring at school some pastries or whatever you will choose (whatever you want to prepare and master well) for the children, the parents and the teachers there. For yourself also. No because of the guilt, but because of the interior freedom within you could prepare it. Every woman has her own recipe that makes sense in her life. This recipe is individual and mastered with the time.
    Many thanks for your sincere sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Coming out of lurkdom because I have to comment on this...

    I read the first two sentences of this story and thought to myself, "Damn, she's strong. Good for her!" I would have immediately and enthusiastically said, "Yes!" to a request like this, and then instantly regretted it. I would have been swearing and muttering to myself throughout the entire horrendous baking process (in my vintage apron, no less!), snapping at my children, and vowing to never get sucked into something like this again... And then doing it all over again next time someone asked.

    It takes great strength to know your limits and say No. And I really, really, doubt anyone was judging you for it. :)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

♥ Thank you for taking the time connect with me here. ♥

Popular posts from this blog

Mountain

Okay, I am just here writing, because I can't quite tell you how important it is that I have full permission to write, right here today, with this energy that I am holding. To stand strong in the truth of my being, that has felt quite weak and wavering in moments, and equally strong and clear in moments, as if these parts are truly at war with one another, and I am watching to see which one will win out, but the funny division between the two is merely this, the more I let the two up for air, wrestling and churning up and me trying to find which team is going to win, which one is going to end up on top, there is just simply me, sitting on the sidelines, and really tired of watching the back and the forth, and so, I just sit and put my hand in the sand I am sitting on the beach, and feel the texture of the sand, feel it running through my hand, and there is just this amazingness of this sand moving through my hand, and it feels timeless and I begin to see shapes and outlines in the…

RIP Poltergeist

After over ten years of an incredibly intense journey as a seeker, I find myself lying fallow. Taking a rest. When I first discovered this uncomfortable fact — threat to the hamster wheel that was my spiritual rat race, I surrendered for dead, but something wouldn’t let that fact sit as truth. I was lying fallow, but this implied that after a good rest, fruit could follow. This had nothing to do with death.

I am humbled at the courage it takes to write. For many years I kept a blog read by only a handful of very supportive people, and you’d think that after sharing writing for so long with perfect strangers, writing would have gotten easier. Actually, it got harder. In fact, at one point I was so paralyzed, I just stopped writing altogether. It was just too vulnerable. There was no trust there anymore, and I attributed any courage I had had to my youthful ignorance.

However, life continues, as it inevitably does, and there is still this pang to write, and it grows stronger and strong…

Big Red Bow & Boat

The next installment in a boat series, I guess. I just loved drawing this one. It just sort of appeared one day, and I loved the hues. Thanks Sharpie, for mixing up some alluring colors for me.

It didn't start out as night, but thanks to a sharpie mishap... but I am coming to ADORE those mishaps, because my favorite part of this little drawing is that it is night!

I also love drawing these women from behind with big bows. I love the mystery of whether the boat is coming in or going out. Perhaps it is all those Victoria Holt novels I read as a girl. Thanks mom!

It is fun to just enjoy looking at art I've created, not because they are good, but because they evoke something for me in my experience--something that just feels simply a little bit more alive--tiny sparks of wonder that make me feel curious about this human existence, and our desire to create--something wordless. Sometimes I think it is the closest way that I get to brush up to my personal experience as a human. Beca…